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We’ve got a freelancer who does some occasional work for us. He lives near one of the first pockets of COVID-19 reported in the United States, and he’s got four kids between grades 3-5.

Their schools shut down on March 18. It was supposed to be a six-week stoppage at first, but it quickly turned into homeschooling for the rest of the year. That means he is working full-time, juggling four school schedules, and trying to give the kids a meaningful experience.

We asked him about the lessons he has learned entering the ninth week of homeschooling.

1. Keep to the Usual Routine

“We get up at the same time each morning, even though there isn’t a bus to catch. Now we have time to eat breakfast together. As they get their schedules organized for the day, I plan out my writing responsibilities. Then we all get to work.”

2. Look for Alternatives to Organized Sports

“I have a son who has a black belt in taekwondo. His training went from the dojang to meetings on Zoom in our living room. I also have two kids who play soccer, and I’m the academy director for our local club. We play a lot of 1-on-1 games in the backyard. Even if school returns, private organizations can replace school-based sports if we decide to keep homeschooling.”

3. Ask Lots of Questions.

“I don’t rely on Google classroom meetings to convey the information my children receive. Teachers are adjusting to this new normal as we are. Before we have dinner each night, I have all four kiddos run through what they learned – and what they can do with that in the future.”

4. It Is a Time to Learn Responsibility

“We have the kids complete two chores before doing any non-school screen-based activities. They can choose not to do any work around the house, but then they lose video game privileges and their allowance for the day. Some may not agree, and that’s fine i it is our way of teaching them that responsibility outside of the classroom is as important as inside of it.”

5. Keep an Eye on the Future

“I was homeschooled through high school and earned an athletic scholarship. There might be more social opportunities with public schools compared to homeschooling, but most communities have local groups where families get together for field trips and such. I took French at a religious school, played in the public school band. There’s always a solution for homeschoolers if you’re willing to be creative.

Then we asked what his best piece of advice would be. “Take time for yourself as a parent,” he said. “Whether you get up early or stay up past their bedtime, you and your spouse or partner need some time to yourself. A couple of quiet hours can help to keep everyone on the same page.

Scott Larson